In The Future...Simon & Garfunkel (Pending), Amelia Curran & Rose Cousins, Jon And Roy, And More!!!

>> Thursday, 25 February 2010

For the first time since the early 70s (I think), easy and breezy folk duo Simon & Garfunkel (Simon not shown) are coming to town, performing at the MTS Centre on May 5th. Most likely. According to the Free Press, who broke the story, the show’s confirmation is still pending. If Garfunkel holds out, I know who could fill in.

Amelia Curran and Rose Cousins play the Park Theatre on April 29th. Presale code is Halifax.

Jon & Roy are at the Folk Exchange on April 24th.

Kate Maki and Brent Randall are there on March 26th.

Matthew Barber is at the Lo Pub on April 6th.

Resident hip-hopper Pip Skid will launch his appropriately titled new disc, Skid Row, at the West End Cultural Centre on March 13th.

Rob Zombie is taking a break from putting his directorial touch on the Halloween film franchise. Teaming up for a tour with fellow horror-rocker Alice Cooper, Zombie and Cooper will be at the MTS Centre on April 26th. Presale password is HELLBILLY.

Infinite Playlist: Canada v. USA Women's Hockey Gold Medal Match


In The Know...11 Qs With Woodhands + A Giveaway!

>> Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Last month, Toronto-based electro-pop pairing Woodhands - Dan Werb and Paul Banwatt (yes, the drummer from the Rural Alberta Advantage) - launched their sophomore record, Remorsecapade, into the indie stratosphere, earning gushingly enthusiastic reviews for its sweaty, dancy, party goodness.

The guys are currently trekking all over Canada and the US, promoting their highly contagious new record via their bumping live show, sets that involve “no pre-programmed samples, no laptops, no safety net: just two hyperkinetic, high-energy performers bringing the party as hard as possible, a little different each time.”

See what all the hype is about this Saturday at the Lo Pub!

I’ve got two copies of Remorsecapade for giveaway if you’re interested. Simply fire me off an email (addy on the right) by Monday @ 4 p.m. with “Woodhands – Remorsecapade Giveaway” in the subject line and your name in the body. Winners will be drawn randomly, and then contacted chop-chop.

Also, I interrogated co-Woodhands-leader Dan Werb, and here’s what he had to say…

1. Where are you right now?
Vancouver + Halifax

Let's talk music...

2. Where is your favourite place in Canada to play a gig?
Wherever we are that night. But Toronto and Vancouver get special mentions.

3. What’s one piece of equipment absolutely essential to your live show?
Our motto is that nothing is essential - even if everything breaks we believe that we could put on an amazing live show.

4. What are your top three, all-time, desert-island records?
Computer World (Kraftwerk)
Decade (Neil Young)
The Blueprint (Jay-Z) 

5. Where do you shop for music?
 At shows.

6. What was the last great concert you saw?
I watched Leonard Cohen's concert on TV, but it was absolutely amazing.

7. Of the albums you own, which has the best cover art?
Remorsecapade. ahem.

And some hodgepodge...

8. Conan or Leno?
C'mon.  What are we, 50?

9. What’s your favourite winter Olympics sport?
Skeleton luge.  Though short track speed skating is hilarious.

10. What book(s) are you currently reading?
number9dream by David Mitchell.

11. And finally…who’s your favourite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, or Raphael?
Donatello all the way.


In The Future...The Besnard Lakes, We Are Wolves, Viking Metal Act Amon Amarth, And More!

>> Saturday, 20 February 2010

Montreal’s The Besnard Lakes have booked a spring Western Canadian tour in support of their much-anticipated sophomore record, The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night (available March 9th via Outside Music). The seven-city trip includes a visit to the Albert on April 28th.

Plus, the band will proudly display their dark, sprawling pop on March 23rd’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, as the SNL-comedian-turned-host continues to give support to the indie ranks (Japandroids rocked the show last month).

Speaking of the Albert AND Montreal acts, post-punk troupe We Are Wolves play there on April 21st.

The Armchair Cynics drop by the Pyramid on March 24th.

Local singer-songwriter James Struthers is releasing his latest CD, Nadia, there the night after.

Korn still got some life (evidently), appearing at the Convention Centre on April 3rd.

April 17 at the Garrick sees Viking metal band Amon Amarth rock the joint w/ Eluveitie.

Also at the Garrick is Snocore, a March 29th event featuring Protest the Hero, The Set, Hawthorne Heights, and Elias.

And then on April 21st, catch A Day To Remember, August Burns Red, Enter Shikari, and Go Radio.

Infinite Playlist: The new fantastic, massively epic Broken Social Scene tune, "World Sick" via Pitchfork. 


In Review...Four Tet, fanshaw

>> Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Four Tet
There is Love in You

It's been a fairly long road to Kieran Hebden's newest minimalist electronic record, but it's certainly been worth the wait. Hebden, aka Four Tet, has spent the last decade honing his chops (both in Four Tet and in post-rock outfit Fridge) and evolving his sound to this newest release, There is Love in You

Hebden opens with "Angel Echoes," looping a fractured female vocal line over a sparse electronic drum beat. "Love Cry", the second track on There is Love in You, clocks in at just over nine minutes, most of those spent on a simple (and far more organic) drum beat with sparse instrumentation. Like the rest of the tracks here, it doesn't feel either boring or too long, but rather establishes a groove and lets it play itself out.

Simply calling this electronic music, minimal techno or any other moniker is to do it an injustice; "Circling" builds without any beats whatsoever - only modular keyboard lines, while closer "She Just Likes to Fight" is driven by a decidedly clean guitar line and checked timekeeping. 

There is Love in You as a whole may not jump out and grab you immediately. However, I found the nine songs (one is a twelve-second sample of the in utero heartbeat of Hebdan's godson) flew by rather quickly, and before I knew it I was starting from the top and letting the record play out again from the beginning. 

-Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson

Choice Cuts: "Angel Echoes", "Love Cry", "Sing"
R.I.Y.D.: Boards of Canada, The Field, Caribou
Label: Domino

Dark Eyes

In 2007, massive Vancouver-based music conglomerate The Choir Practice released their eponymous debut on cherished indie-label Mint Records. It was, and still is, an impossibly gorgeous disc brimming with nude, echoing waves of choral harmonies.

As a contributing member of The Choir Practice, it’s really no surprise that Olivia Fetherstonaugh (who records under fanshaw) has an alluring, highly elastic set of vocal chords. And on Dark Eyes – her half-a-decade-in-the-making debut also launched on Mint - Fetherstonaugh knows this and plays to her strength, showing off her pipes all over this stirring, moody batch of veiled pop tunes.

Album opener “Diana” is built around – surprise, surprise - a looped, kinda spooky vocal riff. “Vegas” is a smoky, past-closing-time cabaret number; while the initially low-key and introspective “Rebecca” – an allusion to Daphne du Maurier's 1938 novel named, well, Rebecca – gets lit up along the way by warm and subtle tones.

Fetherstonaugh is known for taking up to a year to finish a song, working through the process assiduously, not letting an iota of sonic detail escape her (surely) confident vision. Dark Eyes is the prevailing result.

- Mykael Sopher

Choice Cuts: “O Sailor”, “Diana”, “Rebecca”
R.I.Y.D.: The Choir Practice, St. Vincent, Kate Bush
Label: Mint Records

Infinite Playlist: The Album Leaf - A Chorus of Storytellers


In The Future...2010 Folk Festival News, Aidan Knight + We Are The City, Fargo Temptations

>> Sunday, 14 February 2010

Early bird tickets for the 2010 Folk Fest went on sale yesterday.

A few noteworthy items:

For the first time in its history, The Winnipeg Folk Festival will have a capped attendance this year. With crowds at the folk-lovin’ event swelling to an almost-unmanageable size, the festival brass decided to limit daily attendance this year to 14,000.

In another festival first, camping passes will not be sold separately from the festival pass. This was implemented to curb the epidermis-removers who snapped up the camping passes and resold them on Kajiji for double.

Below are the adult early-bird prices. The festival is officially five days from now on - July 7th to July 11th this year - and is pricey, so be creative with the entertainment portion on your monthly budget. I know I'll have to be. Lineup announcements start trickling out in March.

  • 5-day festival pass w/ camping: $216.75
  • 5-day festival pass w/out camping: $181.75
  • Single day pass: $55

In other show news…

A pair of promising BC-based acts play the Lo Pub on February 25th: Vancouver singer-songwriter Aidan Knight and Kelowna indie-rockers We Are The City.

Kae Sun is at the Albert on February 18th with The Expos and Greg Crowe & The Scarlett Union.

Ghostkeeper materialize at the Lo Pub on March 27th.

Any finally, for anyone just itching for a short indie-music road trip, there’s some exciting talent playing the Aquarium in Fargo:

Resplendent indie-popper Headlights are there on February 25th. They still owe us a show from two summers ago, so, if you go, remind them.

Brazen party-rockers Titus Andronicus visit on April 4th.

On April 10th, catch spiky indie-rockers Love is All.

To get there, take Pembina Highway south for three-and-a-half hours. Bring a passport.

Infinite Playlist: Phoenix - It's Never Been Like That


In The Flesh...The Rural Alberta Advantage, The Wooden Sky, And Great Bloomers - Live At The West End

>> Thursday, 11 February 2010

Purple city. Ever done it?

The RAA’s frontman Nils Ekman has. But not here. In Edmonton! Who knew it wasn’t a Peg-City-specific event?

While introducing the rollockin’ acoustic-driven “Edmonton” last night, the polite and soft-spoken Rural Alberta Advantage leader revealed to a sold-out West End Cultural Centre that this Edmonton phenomenon was his muse for the song. This, naturally, sparked widespread outrage from the excitable crowd, with shouts of “We do it too!” reverberating off the walls.

We certainly do. Much to the chagrin of optometrists.

Blazing through an hour-or-so of tunes off their fantastic Hometowns, the RAA (their self-appointed nickname), dazzled the 400+ enthusiastic, chatty, and receptive crowd at Winnipeg’s finest music room. Attendance, I’m told, was up ten-fold since their spring show at the Royal Albert.

Some slick new numbers were injected into the set, signifying some great music to come. Ekman even sang a pair of stripped-down and surprising covers: Survivor’s iconic “Eye of the Tiger”, and the theme song to the weirdly popular Canadian-made show, “The Littlest Hobo.”

For just three musicians standing next to each other, the overall sound was brilliant and huge in scope. Definitely the product of equal contributions. Amy Cole harmonized with Ekman and provided colourful textures, banging drumsticks, a kids’ store glockenspiel, sleigh bells, and a drum. Drummer Paul Banwatt’s spirited chops seemed to anchor and amplify his counterparts’ efforts. Ekman’s fierce, red-faced vocals were so impassioned I could see his pulsing forehead veins from the mezzanine.

These merchants of song unquestionable sell and believe in their aural product. I would too.

Two parts of The Wooden Sky’s wonderful performance really stood out: the wildly manic drumming of Andrew Kekewich and singer Gavin Gardner’s tender, weathered vocals. “Oh My God (It Still Means A Lot To Me)” was pitch-perfect and is still resonating two days later.

Great Bloomers warmed up the crowd with an equally terrific set of smart and sprightly alt-folk. Their song structures favoured gradual builds that exploded into the insane frenzy of a runaway mine car.

Overall, not a single dull moment the entire evening. Anyone do Purple City afterward?

Infinite Playlist: La Roux - La Roux


In The Know...11 Qs With Great Bloomers

>> Monday, 8 February 2010

At an economical $12 ($15 at the door), tomorrow night’s Rural Alberta Advantage, Wooden Sky, and Great Bloomers bill at the West End is easily the best-value-per-dollar night of this fresh year.

Great Bloomers get the party started at around 8 tomorrow with their contagious, well-crafted folk-rockers. Since the release of their debut album Speak of Trouble, the Toronto-based quintet has earned heavy play on the Canadian University airwaves and CBC Radio 3. Try not to miss their set.

If you can’t make it out tomorrow night, I’ve got a first-rate consolation prize. The generous, Painting-Over-Silence-supporting folks at Maple Music have sent along two copies of Speak of Trouble for giveaway. Entering is standard fare: send me an email (on the side) by Louis Riel Day (Monday for non-Manitobans) @ noon CST with the subject line “Great Bloomers CD Giveaway”, and your name in the body. I’ll draw the winners randomly and email the lucky pair shortly afterward.

Also, I peppered Great Bloomers leader Lowell Sostomi with 11 interest-unearthing Qs. Subjects broached: favourite place to play a gig, Conan v. Leno, the Winter Olympics, and TV shows on his radar.

Gotta love that Sunny in Philadelphia.

1. Where are you right now?
On my bed with my cat

Let's talk music...

2. Where is your favourite place in Canada to play a gig?
Fort Erie, my home town. There is nothing quite like the warm welcome we get from everyone there!

3. What’s one piece of equipment absolutely essential to your live show? 
My Fulltone 2 Overdrive pedal. I swear by it.

4. What are your top three, all-time, desert-island records?
The Band - The Band
George Harrison - All Things Must Pass
Dennis Wilson - Pacific Ocean Blue

5. Where do you shop for music?
Sonic Boom, She Said Boom, and sometimes Soundscapes... but I mostly buy vinyl.

6. Of the albums you own, which has the best cover art?
I love this question. Some of my favorites include: Ozark Mountain Daredevils - S/T, Animal Collective - Here Comes the Indian, Smog - Knock Knock, The Byrds - Sweetheart of the Rodeo, Karen Dalton - It's so Hard to Tell Who is Going to Love You the Best, Van Morrison - Astral Weeks.

And some hodgepodge..

7.Conan or Leno?

8. Simpsons, South Park, or Family Guy? 
Simpsons Seasons 3-9

9. What’s your favourite winter Olympics sport?
Anything with high speeds involved. Luge, Skiing.. stuff like that.

10. What TV shows are you currently following? 
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Curb, Summer Heights High, and watching lots of reruns of the Larry Sanders Show.

11. And finally…who’s your favourite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, or Raphael?)
I always liked Michelangelo.

Congrats to Lori on winning the Jenn Grant cd. I'll get that out to you asap.

Infinite Playlist: Great Bloomers - Speak of Trouble


In The Future...Plants And Animals, You Say Party! We Say Die!, Haiti Benefits, And More!

>> Thursday, 4 February 2010

Eclectic indie-rock trio Plants and Animals bring their energetic and engaging live show to our city’s finest sound room - the West End Cultural Centre – on April 28th. Expect a ton of new material since their much-anticipated sophomore release La La Land drops on April 20th.

The Fugitives swing by The West End on April 1st.

Dance-punkers You Say Party! We Say Die! return to the Albert on April 7th.

Andy Rourke of the Smiths (!) is DJing a set at the Pyramid on March 6th.

Oft-buzzed-about bradley is at the Cavern on April 16th.

Great Bloomers are also part of Tuesday’s Wooden Sky/Rural Alberta Advantage bill at the WECC. All for the criminally low cost of $12!

And last but not least, a few more Haiti relief fundraisers have popped up:

On February 11th, the West End along with Winnipeg-Haiti Solidarity Group is throwing a fundraiser with help from local denizens Daniel ROA, John K. Samson of the Weakerthans, and Ruth Moody & Nicky Mehta of the Wailin’ Jennys.

On February 18th, the Pyramid hosts a Haiti benefit featuring Latka, The Influence, and Dirty.

Infinite Playlist: Figurines - Skeleton


In The Know...11 Qs With Jenn Grant

>> Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Folk-pop songstress Jenn Grant is rapidly becoming a National Treasure.

Currently in the midst of a cross-country tour - a 13-date trek which sees her pay a visit to the Park Theatre on Tuesday, February 9th - Grant is celebrating the one-year anniversary of her breakthrough, Echoes. Since the record dropped, Grant has earned accolades all over the country. The charming chanteuse is a strong contender for three East Coast Music Awards - Female Solo Recording of the Year, Recording of the Year and Pop Recording of the Year. And on top of the three possible mantle additions, Grant is also performing during the Winter Olympics medal ceremony on February 16th. Indie music and medals! Go Canada Go!

I’ve got a copy of the striking Echoes for giveaway (courtesy of the fine folks at Six Shooter Records). Entering is business as usual. Fire me off an email (on the right) by Monday the 8th @ high noon CST with “Jenn Grant Echoes – Giveaway” in the subject line, your name in the body, and I’ll draw a winner randomly.

I had the great pleasure of throwing 11 Qs Grant’s way and she shot back with some mighty fine, character-revealing answers. I had no idea someone (other than me and my sister) watched Home Alone religiously when they were 10.

That irresistibly zany, criminal-foiling Kevin McCallister...

1.Where are you right now?
Halifax, Nova Scotia. In my livingroom, listening to Sigur Ros.

Let’s talk music…

2. What are your top-three, all-time, desert-island records? 
Laura Veirs "July Flame"
Phoenix  "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix"
"Arvo Part"

3. Of the albums you own, which has the best cover art?
Jens Lekman "Night falls over Kortedala"

4. Where do you shop for music?
Record Stores in far away cities or itunes.

5. Who is one artist, alive or dead, that you’d love to record a song with?
Laura Veirs.

6. Who is the most underrated Canadian artist/band?
 Erin Costelo, New artist from Halifax Nova Scotia.

And some hodgepodge…

7. What book(s) are you currently reading? 
"A Complicated Kindness" by Miriam Toews

8. What’s one film you watch over and over again? 
 When I was 10 there was a significant amount of time where I watched Home Alone everyday. And then I watched it again this Christmas. I like it when he dances with the paper people.

9. What is your current ringtone? 
I do not celebrate the ringtone.

10. What is your favourite winter Olympics sport? 
I love watching Figure Skating. My mother and I shared a borderline unhealthy relationship towards Elvis Stojko for some time.

11.And finally, a toughie…who is your favourite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, or Raphael)?
If it's alright I will answer this by saying that I like Splinter. We named a gerbil after him.
At this point in my life, I can no longer remember the difference between turtles. If one of them liked drawing pictures then I think I liked him. I also enjoyed that movie circa 1990 and watched my brother attempt to build nunchucks for about a year. we were very arts and crafts based children though and did not use the nunchucks for anything..

Infinite Playlist: Los Campesinos! - Romance Is Boring


In Review...Owen Pallett, Hawksley Workman

>> Monday, 1 February 2010

Owen Pallett

After garnering so much attention by taking Canada's inaugural Polaris Music Prize in 2006 with the album He Poos Clouds, Canadian chanteur/violinist Owen Pallett has stepped out from behind the Final Fantasy moniker to release Heartland under his birth name. 

Heartland is a concept-ish album about a farmer named Lewis confronting his demons - not exactly the best-sounding place to enter Pallett's body of work - but in fact Heartland is a singularly striking work, one that grabs the listener from the opening organ and haunting voice of "Midnight Directives" to the piano and layered vocals of closer "What Do You Think Will Happen?".

Throughout, Pallett and guest musicians (including the St. Kitts' Winds and the Czech Symphony Strings, and members of The Arcade Fire) bring both majesty and modesty to tracks, with arrangements ranging from piano and voice to strings, loops, orchestration, percussion, and singing. Time signatures, arrangements and Pallett's often soft delivery of absolutely incredible lyrics means Heartland ain't exactly a sing-along album; instead, it promises to be one of the most thoughtful, profound releases of 2010. 

-Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson

Choice Cuts: “The Great Elsewhere”, “Midnight Directives”, “Lewis Takes Action”
R.I.Y.D.: Destroyer, Joanna Newsom, The Decemberists,
Label: Domino Records

Hawksley Workman

Meat can be tasty. But somewhat overcooked in parts.

The inexhaustible and versatile Hawksley Workman’s eleventh(!) record is bold and bombastic, an 11 tracker that sees Workman delve into many different styles. Kicking off with the elegant and vulnerable piano ballad “Song for Sarah Jane”, this painfully touching sensibility quickly transforms into self-assured swagger during fuzzy glam-rocker “French Girl in LA.” Right after, the surefooted Workman stumbles. Sleepy “Baby Mosquito” sounds effortless and uninspired, 8+ minute-long epic “You Don’t Just Want To Break Me (You Want To Tear Me Apart)” needs a few minutes lopped off, and the cocky strut of “Depress My Hangover” is a little too flamboyant and daffy.

Fortunately, Workman regains his songwriting foothold toward the end with splendid pop jingle “The Happiest Day I know is a Tokyo bicycle” and desperately breathless album sealer “We’ll Make Time.” On Meat, there’s no doubt Workman can handle a variety of styles and is consistently able to perform some awe-inspiring vocal gymnastics. He just needs some editing.

-Mykael Sopher

Rating: 2.5/4.0
Choice Cuts: “Song for Sarah Jane”, “French Girl in LA”, “(The Happiest Day I Know is a) Tokyo Bicycle).”
R.I.Y.D.: U2, Tegan and Sara, Sam Roberts
Label: Isadora Records


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